Cosmos, a story of space.

Have you ever been a sky observer? Such stellar activities happen high up in the air. I love the black curves of flying birds across a bright sunrise. They have always been behind the mountains of every drawing I made as a child.  A sunrise, flying birds, few mountains, many trees, a blue river and our little home beside. When you just start to think of living a life there, you can see this machine bird in your head. It’s an airplane, that’s made us travel the world with ease and comfort. In 90s when the airplane flew past our neighborhood, we would run out to take a glimpse and wave hands. It gave us thrill and left us amused. I wondered if there would be anyone up there who could see our tiny hands and wave back. I’m standing beside the tower that takes me to 103rd floor to put me in a glass balcony. Skyscrapers begin to look like vertical platform that operates messengers to move back and forth between the earth and sky. I get off and I’m wandering under the dark lost in the jungle of my own thoughts. I look up to see Orion, a constellation that I fell in love with. He hunts my thoughts and lets me explore. I’m swirling around in circles and racing through the sky to space to system to galaxy to web of galaxies and the universe. I have gained enormous energy. Slowly, I’m starting to feel heavy. I’m swallowed by a black hole and from nowhere I start dropping down at light years speed to wake up from a sweaty dream. I’m struggling to breathe my share of oxygen. We know that our atmosphere offering of oxygen has depleted over years. Maybe my DNA will pass on this information to my lineage in their genes. After many thousands or perhaps millions of years a new human is born with some of my gene strands who wouldn’t need oxygen anymore.

Space could be bright or very dark.  Space could make you light or very heavy. Space could be a question or it could give you an answer. It’s a knowledge house and is full of mysteries. It offers us many stories.

Ever want to watch an amazing series that can stimulate questions around life on earth and space mysteries? I recommend Cosmos, A Spacetime Odyssey and need I mention that I’m in love with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Sailing in the sea of my memories

The alarm kept buzzing and it took a few more snoozes before it was fully silenced. Mornings are a challenge themselves, while, winter mornings challenge you with a dark dare. I always thought birds recognized sunrise to wake up and that ain’t true, they shout at three in the middle of my sleep. I dragged myself to the kitchen to prepare my honey lime warm water and saw a pound of bread resting in a corner. I sail back in the sea of my memories.

My mother is busy working her way in the kitchen. She has draped a blue and red printed saree and sporting a maroon bindi on her forehead. She is making filter coffee for everyone in the house. She pours the decoction and adds the creamy milk to make it a glossy brown liquid that kick starts the day for most adults. I couldn’t see the coffee bubbling on the burner, I stood straight and barely reached the kitchen counter. I walk into the hallway and see my father in his white vest and dhothi, leaning in the sofa and reading every bit of news from the Kannada newspaper ‘prajavani’ delivered by a local boy in his cycle. I go to sit next to dad and continue to play with my semi-naked barbie doll. My sister is wearing her favorite light blue frock with white flower prints. She’s lying on the floor and scribbling words on a book with her new crayons. The black cat walks past us to enter our kitchen and continues to meow. She’s stayed outdoors all night wanting to hunt down rats of our neighborhood, but, she looks disappointed with her efforts. I leave the doll on the sofa and run behind her to the kitchen. As I try to hold her, she slips away to circle around my mother. She wants her dose of morning milk. The cat closes her eyes and licks all the droplets of milk from her bowl. I sit beside to pat her while she scratches her neck and continues to lick herself up. My mother asks me to keep a distance from the cat, she scares me that its hair would go to my tummy and result in a stomach ache. I give a deaf ear to her talk and continue to play with my black panther. She hands over a glass of milk and asks me to drink it quick. I’ve been waiting for this moment since morning and I ask her to give me slices of bread to eat along. She declines my request and says I’d be fussy and wouldn’t have my breakfast if I eat the bread now. My lips drop down and I make a crying face. She doesn’t budge and I begin to cry frantically which includes a choke that stops my inhalation. Now the cry has transformed into a shrill. Everyone in the house run to the kitchen and begin to worry. They put the bread on my palm and calm me down. I start to breathe, slow down my sob and focus on the piece of bread. My joy slowly returns and I feel accomplished. I’d won my game of bread. My sibling peeps behind my dad to watch this intense scene and probably wonders how her sister is born with a taste for bread. Maybe, only to realize that decades after this very sister moves into a country of bread and makes it her home, as if it were destined.

I can feel the happiness now and I break into a smile, while marido walks in and gives me a cheery good morning hug. I’m wearing a black shirt and a pink shorts. My hair’s all messy. Well I too begin to make some filter coffee.

and bread… I’ve saved them to eat along 🙂    

100 years – the first five

Ever since I’ve started reading George Mahood’s ‘Everyday is a holiday’, I get crazy ideas. What’s my latest? Well, I began a small research project to find about events that occurred every year on the 30th of July since 1916. Why 30th of July you may ask, hmm.., it marks the day I was born. Ahan, I thought it would be cool to know what happened on this particular date every year since 1916, giving it a frame of hundred years. All excited. 

I got super thrilled about the discoveries I’m going to make and the stories I’d encounter. ‘Why wait?’, I said to myself and began to chase. I was sure the early years were going to be filled with war stories, considering the first and second world war

Let’s begin with the story of Statue of Liberty, a gift to the United states by the French. It represents ‘Libertas’, Roman goddess who bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law. The statue remains an icon of freedom. She stood at the New York welcoming all since 1886. She witnessed the war and sustained minor damages too. On the 30th of July, 1916, the Black Tom explosion at Jersey, an act of sabotage by German agents to destroy American made dynamites and explosives that were to be supplied to US allies (Britain and France) for their war efforts, caused minor damage to the torch bearing right arm of Statue of Liberty. The narrow ascent to the torch has remained closed for public ever since. It wasn’t my intention to begin this project with a sad note. Nope, not at all. However, we are talking news from war times, hardly any good tunes there.

Have you heard of Zaleszczycki and Sniatyn? I did not have the slightest clue until some google search that I did now. Supposedly 30th of July 1917 is marked as the fall of Zaleszczycki and Sniatyn, they were retaken by Austrian Third Army. Zaleszczycki (in Polish) is a small city on the Dniester river in western Ukraine (between 1918 and 1939 it was part of Poland). Sniatyn is a city in western Ukraine too along the Prut river. Nearly all of Sniatyn’s Jewish population was murdered during holocaust. Two years ago I’d visited Berlin’s war museums. I found such heart wrenching stories all along. It can only remind us that there are two sides to the war and both are dark, sucking them all like a black hole.

Joyce Kilmer was a journalist, poet, literary critic and an editor at New York Times. On 30th of July 1918, he died. Here’s his poem ‘Trees’, that made him famous.

I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.

A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;

A tree that looks at God all day
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;

A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;

Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.

Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.


– Joyce Kilmer, 1913

I love the summer and nest of robins there.

Here’s also a note from Hell’s observer on the 30th of July, 1918 – between the rains and guns

hells-observer_1918

Sigmund Widmer, a Swiss historian was born on 30th of July 1919. I had to make this entry at-least to satisfy the historian devil who’s entered my body recently. I think by now you’ve also figured that I’m a traveler. Let’s talk about Chicago. It’s a wonderful place, isn’t it? I like the lake, popcorn, silver bean and the glass balcony view. Once, I had a chance to visit a friend’s aunt who lives in a skyline apartment beside the harbor. The view was as beautiful as the lady of the house. At eighty plus she was bubbling with an energy of eighteen, she’ll remain ever inspiring. Chicago is also known for riots. Race riots : Chicago in red summer of 1919 was between 27th July and 3rd August. It’s considered to be the worst race riot in the history of Illinois. A century further, we still are battling the right to equality, be it gender or race or any other societal barriers, at various corners of this world

Marie Tharp, born on 30th of July 1920, is the woman who discovered the backbone of earth. Marie Tharp´s cartographic accomplishments were exceptional because she overcame educational and employment barriers that limited opportunities for women of her generation. Without doubts she prepared the field for other researchers. In 2009, Ocean in Google Earth included the Marie Tharp Historical Map layer, to allow people to view Tharp’s map using the Google Earth interface.The Marie Tharp Fellowship is a competitive academic visiting fellowship awarded to women to work with researchers at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. Marie’s life and work gives me pride as a woman.

Wow, that’s a whole lot. Almost everything I’ve put in there is my new learning, but, the themes have always remained in my writing – war, travel, equal rights, poems.  Have any anecdote to share?

Says, ‘back to your roots’

When you are an amateur blogger and someone likes your post, you go onto their blog, read their life and stories. They’d suddenly become friends in your head, you know what I mean. Unbolt – Tetania and Tony, their poems and extracts felt as if we were having a cup of coffee and discussion at our living room. With the blog and bloggers, there are so many of them I want to call out and tell, how much I nod while reading their posts, how much their life seems so similar to mine or how much our world differs but I understand ‘that feeling’ of theirs. As we grow and move world aparts from friends we grew up with, it’s a bit of challenge, but, it does progress with our stories and experiences. Eventually in the journey, we make new friends, some old ones fall out, some turn thick & thin and some wear out as acquaintances. Friendship is a weird wiring. I’ve felt a constant support, I have been told ‘oh, you’ve changed a lot’, I’ve travelled the unknowns with them, I’ve heard appreciations, I’m countered with tantrums. Well, with me around, maybe they go through this cycle too. Lol.     

One big remark against me has been, ‘oh, moving around the world has made you forget your roots’. If you’ve been a globetrotter too, have you heard that? That’s a hard one to digest. Isn’t it? As I remember this, another post has caught my attention – ‘Back to your roots – blogging about genealogy and family history’. Genealogists around the world are meeting for a conference at Salt Lake City, Utah, this week. So I took some inspiration and tried making my family tree with the root starting from my great great grandparents – my father’s side. From my mother’s side I’ve still got to make progress for generations up my grandparents.

genealogy_blog

Photo: My lineage (only with paternal links)

I know that my patriarchal lineage starts with ‘Vishwamitra’, it’s a methodology in Hindu brahmin community to track down one’s root with a ‘gothra’ system. The hindu ‘gothra’ system denotes the lineage. Being a feminist, I could argue it’s unfair that lineage is carried only by the sons, while the daughter would have to change hers (to her husband’s gothra) after marriage. However, to think of it in chromosomes and genetics way, Y chromosome is always preserved with a male lineage. While woman have X chromosomes each coming from mother and a father. So Y is where we can point clearly, as it’s carried from father to son for many generations. It means the gothra system was basically designed to track down the root Y chromosome of a person easily.

The gothra system sounds like an amazing technique considering that it comes from an age that dates to thousands of years backwards from when we, the modern age human, have begun the exploration of genetics and DNA. However there are far too many things I do not know yet and its very interesting to research them, well, back in my roots. 

Just yesterday, I was telling marido that I want to do a historian project. I think, I’ve made a start.

Nice carnival

It’s already one week passed in February, can you believe that. Feels like time lapse is exponential. Don’t know how to summarize my January, let’s say it was getting bundle loads of work done and successful discipline in my workout. The year still smells fresh, which means I’m enjoying every tad bit of it.

Over the last weekend, marido and I visited Nice.

nice-carnival_snap

Flying to Nice, once my home

An entry into French world all again.

As we walked the promenade,

Azur sea, Sunshine and a mild breeze welcomed us.

I think of my days in this city

And he’s lost in the memories of Mumbai drive.

The birds fly around with wings of freedom

Trying and testing the city’s best.

Crepe’s on the hill were amazing again

Ricotta epinard is so cheesy that caused enough disgust to us.

Some chit and chat with friends

Cupcakes at Emilie’s for a mouthful of sweet.

A modern art museum to see the artiste

Was as crazy as it can get.

An evening flight and we’ll be back to our English

Let’s say, home is where our heart is.

Growing your thoughts

Sometimes, you just want to shut off your logical brain, not like how Mr. Trump has. I’m talking about a temporary turn off of every switch that leads to logic, so that, you could breathe in some fresh air. My last weekend was all about this.

Over a week since I’d picked some canvas, brushes and paints. I’m no painter and have no idea about mixing colors or handling the brush stroke to give magical depths. On Facebook, I kept seeing videos that were showing someone doing a waterfall using spray paint, a sunset using oil paint and portraits with water paints. So, there I was, embracing the painter in me. I started imagining night sky, colors and galaxies. I picked up paints and started to fill the black cardboard. Blues, greens, yellows, reds, blacks, whites took their turns. After many hours an image emerged, light years away from my conceptualization and a waving immaturity. Well, I do not attempt to know how the painting looks. I just know how it feels. Painting for me, is all about gardening your imagination, growing your thoughts, choosing your colors, following a rhythm and stroking the brush. Poetic it sounds, isn’t it? It’s very liberating. Be aware, if you choose to sit down and paint (like how I did), you’re sure to meet some horrifying back aches for later part of the day.

growing-your-thoughts_painting
Another on my to-do list was attending an orchestra at London. Two years ago when I visited London with my friend P we’d missed the show in whiskers. We usually add up musical / theatre events in our travel to soak in a bit of art & culture. This reminds our trip to Florence and our watching an Opera and it classifies for another blog in itself. Anyway, Marido and I spent our Saturday evening at Southbank center. As the Royal Festival hall was preparing itself for a Philharmonic Orchestra, we grabbed a craft beer and a samosa chaat at a food stall. A surprise upgrade on our tickets, helped us move two levels down and much closer to the stage, adding up to our delight. A cute couple came and sat next to us. The lady identified almost every instrument and she also knew compositions. The man was taking a closer look at the stage with his binoculars. They argued, they discussed, they helped each other. Such enthusiasm and curiosity, that too at an age where they could have possibly argued that they’ve experienced it all. At sharp 7.30, a silence gathered in the hall. Violins & flutes generated harmonics and conductor guided the band to create musical magic for the next two hours. We enjoyed every note of it.

Wassup today?

26th January,

4am: I wake up to drink a glass of water and I see my phone blinking. In my sleepy eyes I manage to read the message. My friend has become an aunt to her newly born niece. A daughter is born. I jump out of my bed in joy! I am awake for a long time thinking about the baby girl and then sleep abducts me for a few more hours.

7am: After my sprint nap I wake up. The sky continues to be grey. I pour the hot coffee into our mugs in a ‘filter coffee’ style. The bubbles froth up. Marido and I are discussing about meetings at office and I see these white birds (I think seagull) flying in our residential. Watching the flight show on an Indian Republic Day has been a regular event. This year, it turned out to be a special one. I must say the birds gave us a spectacular morning show and it totally made my day, giving it a real kick start.

11.30am: I decide to eat my lunch as I have a meeting in about 30 minutes. I switch on netflix to watch along and play an old hindi movie ‘kuch kuch hota hai’, a story of college romance. There are many lame stuff in the movie. I was watching this ‘koi mil gaya’ song sequence. It’s an intercollegiate song & dance competition and the host college has messed up. So, the principal is relying on two students and begging them to represent. My first doubt, why do they seek help from these students who aren’t even part of the initial cultural group. Okay let’s move on, these two give a joker performance. After a crowd booing you’ll see a guitar playing chic walking onto the stage. After that, the two jokers become thorough professionals and join her in giving a lifetime performance on stage. How? My second doubt. Many folks join in and they all dance in synchronization and people are singing the song together as though the lyric was coded into everyone’s brain at once, that’s my third. Jeez anyway, wonder how I managed watching this movie, like so many times, while I was a teenager.

4pm: I wind up all my meetings and decide to call home. My dad starts to narrate a story. He asks me if I remember this person in our village who had memory issues. I say ‘who?’. He continues, ‘Oh, the person who had offered his son a cup of coffee and asked him to leave’. I’m like, ‘yeah maybe, I remember. So, what’s up with him, what did he forget this time, to wear his pants’. My dad’s like, ‘No, he died’. My bad! I should’ve guessed. My dad’s got this crazy behavior. Every time he comes home and starts his story with ‘do you remember..?’ mostly 99% of them end with ‘that person is out..’, as if the deceased was playing a cricket match. I behave the grown up and request him to choose a better phrase. Today he did, and I missed his cricket commentary.

6pm: Marido, is back home and he’s got a short haircut, like the parade going one. He says short haircuts remove a big burden from his head. I think to myself, how much does a hair weigh?. Anyway, we are watching fifth season of Breaking Bad and everyday I count the hours pending for its climax. Then, I tell him about the ‘kuch kuch hota hai’ encounter this noon and he says let’s watch some hindi entertainment. Guess what he does next? Turns to netflix and plays ‘Singh is King’. Gosh, I want to runaway.

10pm: I meet my ever entertaining friend, kindle. He’s still narrating ‘Life with no breaks’.Today it’s about Nick’s grumpy uncle and how much everyone hates him. As I read I’m laughing and then I read out a few lines to marido…Slowly sleep’s peeking in….